Why consider a career as an orthodontic assistant?

orthodontic assistant mouth and tools

Dentistry has many specialties, which gives dental assistants a variety of career paths to follow. One specialty to consider is orthodontics. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there are over 5,000 orthodontists in the country, which leaves plenty of opportunity for dental assistants interested in the field.

In honor of National Orthodontic Health Awareness Month, here are a few reasons working as an orthodontic assistant can be rewarding.

Enhance patient smiles and confidence

As an orthodontic assistant, you’ll have a major role in helping straighten and improve patients’ smiles. Orthodontic treatments have an impact that goes beyond aesthetics, too. Straight teeth can also help patients chew and speak more easily, as well as improve overall oral health by preventing plaque buildup in hard-to-reach places.

For some patients, these results can be life-changing! By the end of orthodontic treatments, patients often get a boost in confidence, which dental assistants are proud to play a part in. And because these treatment time frames can be long, sometimes taking several years, it feels extra rewarding to patients — as well as dental assistants — when they see the final result.

“Every time we remove a patient’s braces after years of treatment and multiple surgeries, it’s an amazing feeling,” says Kari A., CDA.

Doreen D. agrees: “My 22 years working in orthodontics were my favorite. Seeing those faces when the braces come off was priceless!”

Broaden your horizons

For many people, job satisfaction hinges on staying challenged and engaged. It can keep you motivated and prevent burnout at work. That’s why many dental assistants continually pursue education, take on additional responsibilities in their practices, and explore new specialties within dentistry.

If you’ve worked as a dental assistant in one specialty for a while and you’re ready for a new challenge, switching to orthodontics could be an excellent next step in your career.

“The best thing about being a dental assistant is how limitless the field can be,” says Whittney G., CDA, COA. “There are so many different avenues in dental, you can never get bored.”

Work with cutting-edge technology

A career in orthodontics may also allow you to work with innovative technology every day — from robotic wire-bending technology, CAD/CAM, and 3D imaging, to clear aligners and orthodontic lasers.

“Technology and supplies have changed immensely,” says Tara W., CDA, who has spent more than two decades as a dental assistant.

Danielle N. echoes this: “The technology has gotten so advanced and makes our jobs easier.”

Not only does it simplify the job, but some dental assistants even say it’s fun to use.

“I learn something new every day,” says Lisa S., CDA, of working with ever-improving technology. “I love it!”

Receive higher pay

Compared to some other specialties, orthodontic dental assisting can provide an opportunity for a higher hourly wage.

According to DANB’s latest salary survey, Certified Orthodontic Assistants earn a median rate of $25.00 per hour. That’s about $1.00 more than the median Certified Dental Assistant, and over $5.00 more than the median dental assistant, regardless of certification status.

If you’re interested in boosting your earning potential, learn more about Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA) requirements, how to apply, and more.

Looking for job opportunities as an orthodontic assistant? Visit DANB’s job board to view the latest listings in your area.